Thursday 06 February 2020


A Lumen-Christi student has come out top in a UK-wide Mandarin Speaking Competition.

Leo Doherty, an Upper-Sixth pupil at the school, took first prize in the Intermediate Category of the British Council’s Mandarin Speaking Competition, which was held at the Victory Service Club in London, yesterday (Wednesday, February 5 2020).

The competition aims to build interest in Chinese language and culture and saw Leo joined by pupils from 42 Secondary Schools from across the UK – including fellow pupils Anitta Sibin, who competed in the Beginners’ Category, and Matthew Rodgers, Niamh Fleming, Grace Martin, Vibhav Nthanankalva and Owen McFadden, who performed in the Group category.

It seems the North West is leading the way in learning Mandarin, with Leo’s win following on from Eve Flood, a Thornhill College student, who won the Beginners’ Category last year.

As the most spoken language in the world, Mandarin is recognised as a valuable skill for young people in the UK to acquire. 77 per cent of British business leaders surveyed in 2018 said that speaking Mandarin will give school leavers a career advantage. Research by the British Council has found that Mandarin is the second most important foreign language for the UK’s influence on the global stage.

Speaking about Leo’s win was Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland.

He said: “Congratulations to Leo on such a fantastic achievement, which is testament to the hard work he and his teachers have put in throughout the past year. We hope that Leo is an inspiration to other students to think about learning Mandarin or finding out more about Chinese language and culture. 

“Language learning is an essential part of understanding and collaborating with other countries and cultures. With more than one billion Mandarin speakers in the world, it’s important that more young people in the UK learn the language – those that do will find it opens up exciting study and work opportunities in our increasingly interconnected world.

“In the British Council we have a wide range of opportunities and resources available to support schools who are keen to get more involved in international work and would encourage other schools to get in touch with us to see how we can support their international ambitions.”

The British Council is the UK’s leading cultural relations organisation. For more information on the British Council Mandarin speaking competition, visit or follow on Twitter: @BCouncil_NI.

Notes to Editor

For further information please contact: 

Claire McAuley, Communications Manager: T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504 Twitter: @BCouncil_NI, Facebook – 

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.  For more information, please visit: